Adam Silver: Older coaches may not be on bench in Orlando ‘in order to protect them’
Gregg Popovich is 71. Mike D’Antoni is 68. Alvin Gentry just turned 65.
People 65 and older have proven particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. The Center for Disease Control says 80% of COVID-19 deaths in the United States are people 65 and older.
As the NBA heads to the Walt Disney World resort complex in Orlando to resume the season, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver expressed concern for some of the league’s older coaches during an interview on TNT.
“There are people involved in this league, particularly coaches, who are obviously older people...” Silver said. “We’re going to have to work through protocols, for example, and it may be certain coaches may not able to be the bench coach. They may have to maintain social distancing protocols, and maybe they can be in the front of a room, a locker room… with a whiteboard, but when it comes to actual play we’re not going to want that that close to players in order to protect them.”
You can guess how that went over with D’Antoni and Gentry (and, likely, Popovich).
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry on Adam Silver's remark on @NBAonTNT that "certain coaches" might not be on the bench when play resumes. "That doesn't make sense. How can I coach that way? " Gentry, who is 65, says he doesn't think older coaches "should be singled out."— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 5, 2020
Asked Mike D'Antoni yesterday about possibility of this older group of NBA coaches being required to wear masks on bench: "I am sure they want to keep everyone safe, but to start singling people out with more risk, well, I would hope they wouldn’t want to get into that.” https://t.co/NOmG3jhoo6— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 5, 2020
Pretty quickly, Silver was walking his statement back. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, president of the NBA Coach’s Association, was quickly on the phone with Silver.
NBA Coaches Association President Rick Carlisle: "I just spoke to Adam Silver and he admitted that he jumped the gun with his statement to TNT. The health and safety of our coaches is first and foremost. It's entirely possible that an NBA coach in his 60's or 70's could be..."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 5, 2020
Carlisle continued: ..."healthier than someone in their 30's or 40's. The conversation should never be solely about a person's age. Adam assured me that we would work through this together to help determine what is both safe and fair for all of our coaches." https://t.co/yYDldXL69D— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 5, 2020
The league may want to take coaches who are members of vulnerable populations and find a way to add layers of protection for them, but keeping them from coaching their teams would be an incredibly tough sell to everyone around the league.